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Artist's medium is blue prints

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Josh Wilichowski, former artist-in-residence at New York Mills Cultural Center, opens a new exhibit of work made during his residency at the Center in 2010. The cyanotype prints (blue prints) depict the natural and built environment of New York Mills and vicinity. The exhibit is on display in the upstairs gallery of the Cultural Center now through July 9. Everyone is invited to meet Wilichowski and talk with him about his experience in Mills and about his work at a reception in his honor to be held at the gallery from 7-9 p.m. on Saturday, June 18. There is no charge for gallery admission or for the reception.

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Wilichowski was born in 1975 and raised in Marathon City, a small farming community in central Wisconsin. The men in his family consisted largely of farmers, factory workers, and skilled laborers, while the women were primarily homemakers. His mother, a homemaker, routinely stressed the importance of art in his life, and provided Wilichowski with a variety of opportunities to express himself through different media and materials starting at a very early age.

Wilichowski's father, an auctioneer by trade, would bring him along to help set up and prepare for auctions. Regardless of the venue, be it a farm, businesses and or household, he was charged with the tedious job of sorting through the various drawers, tool chests, and cabinets so that the contents could be categorized and boxed up for sale. The opportunity to dive into the owner's belongings gave Wilichowski a chance to visualize why these items had been acquired and speculate about the personal history of the object over the life of its possession. Sometimes, the former proprietor's family members would save a piece or two from the auction block. This was usually followed by a voluntary regaling of the family member's past experiences and memories connected to each thing. It was these experiences that fostered Wilichowski's acute awareness of the intimate connections we form with the objects around us, as well as the use of these items as landmarks for time, emotion and identity.

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